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Number of Shropshire people contacting child porn helpline doubles

By Mark Andrews | Crime | Published:

The number of people in Shropshire seeking help to stop viewing child porn has nearly doubled over the past year, a charity said today.

Still from video produced by the Stop It Now! support service

New figures released by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation revealed that in 2019 a total of 242 people contacted its Stop It Now! support service, compared to 140 people the year before.

The increase was even bigger in the neighbouring West Midlands Force area, with 4,463 people seeking help, a 161 per cent increase compared to 2018, when 1,711 people made contact with the charity.

Staffordshire also saw a big increase, with 1,119 people in the county contacting the helpline last year, compared to 479 in 2018 –an increase of 134 per cent.

The figures are for the total number of people who have contacted the helpline, either by telephone or through the website.

The Wife | Preventing child sexual abuse online | Stop It Now! UK and Ireland

The foundation, set up to prevent child abuse, released the figures to coincide with two new online films to encourage people who view sexual abuse images of under 18s, or are at risk of doing so, to seek help.

Based on the experiences of former offenders, the films show men being caught viewing illicit material by a loved one and a close friend.

'The Housemate' | Preventing child sexual abuse online | Stop It Now! UK and Ireland

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Donald Findlater, director of the helpline, said while the majority of these offenders were adults, a significant number were teenagers themselves.

"Tens of thousands of men in the UK are viewing and sharing sexual images of under 18s," he said.

"These men are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues."

He said many of the men who looked at child porn viewed 'only looking at pictures' as a way of containing their interest.

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Mr Findlater added: "Whoever they are, they need to know this behaviour is illegal, that children are harmed by it, and that serious consequences await those involved with it.

Not a victimless crime

"But also that our helpline and website give anonymous and confidential support and advice to stop and stay stopped. Friends, family and colleagues need to know this too, so they notice and do something."

He said the charity had worked with thousands of men and the people around them in recent years.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, of the National Police Chief's Council spokesman on child protection, said police were arresting more offenders than ever before, at least 500 every month.

"Accessing these images is not a victimless crime, and viewing them creates more demand for these appalling offences," he added.

"We are committed to targeting the perpetrators of these crimes and bringing them to justice.

"The consequences of being caught are huge and include losing your job, your family life, being imprisoned and registered as a sex offender.

"Anyone who is having inappropriate thoughts about children should seek help from Stop It Now!, otherwise they should expect a visit from police officers."

*Anybody needing help, or concerned about somebody who may be viewing child abuse images, can speak to the helpline anonymously on 0808 1000 900 or through the website stopitnow.org.uk

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews
@MAndrews_Star

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.

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